Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Temporary teenager

Oy. I have a teenager in the house. A beloved teenager, but a teenager nonetheless. My niece has been visiting since Friday night, and I am officially worn out. Today will be a day of attempted rest, though I'm virtually certain there will be heavy periods of non-stop babbling, giggling, and singing of Japanese anime songs, I think, and teenybopper songs. Now, to give the girl credit, she does like "old school rock & roll", which means the stuff I call CLASSIC, but what's in a name, right?

Yesterday was a very full day, including a morning full of painting and drawing, lunch out, shopping, and watching a movie. Make that Hubby and I watching a movie (Goodnight and Good Luck -- EXCELLENT FILM -- remember, those who do not remember the past are doomed to repeat it!!!) while niece read her "Left Behind" book. Yes, my niece is a Christian, and very devout. She's also a mostly-Republican.
I am her hippie aunt, and I think she's beginning to realize how different that makes us under the skin. BUT, I'm in hopes that she will be able to use her considerable intellect to understand that differences don't make people "bad", just different.

I visited my therapist yesterday for the weekly session, and a lot of what we talked about had to do with time spent with niece. Therapist asked if I was regretting not having been a mother myself, and I told her that I'd been sort of in mourning over that particular issue for a few months now. I do not have children because I am, apparently, infertile. I did become pregnant once during my first marriage, but, thankfully, miscarried. I say thankfully because had I completed that pregnancy, I would be forever tied to the abusive, perverted first husband, and I don't think I could have handled that at all. As well, I didn't know I was pregnant until after the miscarriage, so there was not the angst that other women have experienced due to anticipation, which is a blessing for me. Others reading this may think I'm cold or heartless, but far from it -- I think my heart would have been broken beyond repair had I known I was carrying my child and then lost it. But I digress...

Life does deal you a particular set of cards, like it or not. My set included infertility, but it also included, I think, greater room for loving more children since I don't have to tend to any of my own full time. Therapist commented that I'm a very loving person, and that my joy seems to come from loving and caring for others, which I think is true. I told her that my life's mantra has always been to love others as I would want to be loved, and I try my damnedest to do that at all times, though naturally, being human, I fall short. I particularly like being able to help kids have a safe person to talk with about things they can't talk to other people about. When I was a teenager, I had some friends' mothers with whom I could do that, and I know how important it was to me. They understood somehow that I was "older than my years" and needed more information about the world than my parents could or would provide me. They understood my yearning to get OUT and to see the world, literally and figuratively. They understood that I wanted more CULTURE, that I wanted to be more civilized, that I wanted to be more educated, not just through books, but through LIFE. And they helped me do those things. They encouraged me to stretch my wings and fly,and I hope I can do that for other kids that need the same things. Now, mind you, I don't want to encourage other people's children to do things they're not allowed to do, not ready to do, not able to do, not responsible enough to do, and I don't want to "convert" anyone to my way of thinking -- I just want to be a resource, and I think I am that to some.

Working online has taken up quite a bit of my last 10 years. Most of the time I worked in forums with teens, so I've come into contact with quite a few from all over the country, and the world, for that matter. Back in the mid-90s, when things were not quite as crazy on the Internet as they are now, teenagers could actually volunteer to be chat room host on certain sites, and I became a coordinator for those volunteers. I managed about 40 people -- at least half of them teens -- and to this day, I am in nearly daily contact with about 6 of them. These "kids" are now graduating from college, entering grad school or the work force, and they still talk with me about what's going on in their lives. On my trip to Sanibel a few weeks ago I met one of these kids in person for the first time -- I've known him since he was 14 years old, and feel like he's "my" kid. There's another young lady in New Jersey whom I've met several times, have visited her home and gotten to know her parents and other family members, have had come visit me at my home, and I feel as though she's partly my child too. There's one in South Carolina with ADD, which has been a constant struggle for her, but one she's dealt with realistically and maturely, and now she's been accepted for grad school to get her master's in Library Science, which has always been her dream. Yet another is in Boston, still finding her way. I remember when her mother died, and remember her purchasing a novena for my husband when he died. All of these people are precious to me, and they're not the only ones.

I have other nieces and nephews, as well as step-grandchildren, all under the age of 9 at this time, with a couple of exceptions. One niece, my late husband's niece, actually, is a Forensic Chemist with a state law enforcement division -- pretty spiffy. Five others are grown and are step-children who did not enter our lives until later on. The little ones all hold a great deal of promise, and I hope that one day they'll come visit their hippie aunt.

I will do as I've done with this teenager here now -- take them to see things that are different from what they're exposed to at home, listen to them without trying to judge, talk to them about ideas that may be foreign to them, and hope that they will continue to love me even when they realize that we have as many differences as similarities.

Wish me luck for the rest of this week. Right now I'm very grateful for coffee. I think I'm going to be grateful for it for the rest of this week, too, unlike all the other days when I'm grateful.

In the paraphrased words of Edward R. Murrow, a real American hero, Good morning, and good luck!



RunAwayImagination said...

You have a soul of solid gold. Compassion is an essential ingredient of your Being, and you should follow it toward your path of life. Like the poet Rumi said, you should let what you love be what you do.

girl MD said...

I applaud you for your compassion and open-ness. It sounds like you have done a lot for a lot of struggling souls.
In my line of work, I see a lot of kids who are being raised in foster care, as well as many who should be but aren't...yet. I would gently put forward that you consider it if you feel that you have the energy. These are kids who are in desperate need of love and compassion and a different perspective on the world.
I also wanted to thank you for your comment on my blog. I love making these random connections with other bloggers.